A strategy to make housing in South Tyneside “fit for purpose” over the next quarter of a century has been launched.
Consultation is ongoing to ensure that homes built meet the needs of people in the borough and in particular our ever-aging population.
Talks are being held with estate agents, letting agents, developers and registered housing providers to make South Tyneside “one of the most desirable places to live”.
There is a specific aspiration for the borough to become the self-styled ‘Bournemouth of the North’, with that southern seaside town recognised nationally as one of the most attractive places in Britain for older people to live.
And housing experts are utilising a mass of statistics on housing trends locally to make sure the policy meets the needs of people of all ages.
The backdrop to the fresh approach – dubbed an integrated housing strategy – is that of the 147,000 people living in our borough there are 67,000 homes, with 57 % in owner-occupation, 33 per cent of tenants renting in the social housing sector - including council homes and housing association properties – and 10 per cent renting in the private sector.
We want a new ambitious plan to build on this and deliver the homes and housing services that people need.Councillor Allan West
Population trends reveal that we need an additional 7,300 to 9,950 additional homes in the borough over the next 20 to 25 years.
More than half of the people living in South Tyneside also work within the borough – a total of 51.2%.
Of the remaining workers the vast majority – 36.5% – work elsewhere in Tyne and Wear, particularly in Newcastle (15.4%) and Sunderland (9.9%).
Now the mass of statistics is being used to develop a ‘what people want’ list in terms of housing needs, with indications that the number of two bed and four bedroom properties need to be increased.
But it is the need to meet the housing needs of an ever-aging population which is immediately pressing, with 21 per cent of our population set to be aged over 65 by 2021.
The council boss with responsibility for housing in South Tyneside has pledged to meet the aspirations of borough residents.
Councillor Allan West, the authority’s lead member for housing and transport, believes the council already “has a lot to be proud of” in the housing sector.
In particular he highlighted improvements to homes at Cleadon Park and Trinity South at South Shields.
But he said the authority was also committed to work with the private rented sector and to support the housing needs of vulnerable adults.
Coun West said: “This is the first stage in shaping a new integrated housing strategy that will support the council’s over-arching vision to make South Tyneside an outstanding place to live, invest and bring up families.
“It will be developed alongside our 20-year Local Plan and an integrated transport strategy.
“We have already achieved a lot to be proud of, delivering ambitious regeneration schemes at Cleadon Park and Trinity South, and investing significantly in existing homes and neighbourhoods.
“We want a new ambitious plan to build on this and deliver the homes and housing services that people need and desire in the context of the specific challenges we face here in South Tyneside.
“It is vital that we provide the homes we need for a growing, and ageing, population. We are committed to delivering the quality of housing that residents aspire to live in and which capitalises on our enviable location and regenerated town centres.
“The strategy must also ensure that we support private sector landlords in providing good quality rented homes and supporting vulnerable tenants.”
Members of the council’s Housing Performance Panel are to meet at South Shields Town Hall from 10am on Wednesday to discuss the way forward for the new strategy.